On Saturday afternoon the Cincinnati Reds made it official with Tommy Pham as he passed his physical and put ink on paper. He spoke with the media in Goodyear and then took some batting practice on the backfields as the big leaguers were getting set to hit the road and face off against the San Francisco Giants.
“I looked at this team, the park, the manager – you know I have a great history with DB (Reds manager David Bell),” said Pham. “I love him from my time in St. Louis. And I get to get with one of my hitting coaches, Joey Votto.”
One of the things that Tommy Pham and Joey Votto have in common is their strikezone discipline. Since the start of 2018 they rank 5th and 7th in all of Major League Baseball when it comes to not chasing pitches out of the strikezone. Votto’s 20.5% chase rate was 5th, while Pham’s 20.7% chase rate was 7th.
“Just swinging at strikes,” Pham said when asked about him increased walk rate. “Guys are just trying to strikeout hitters more and that’s just a by-product of staying in the zone.”
Early in his big league career, Pham had a quality chase rate, but he’s really taken it to an elite level over the last handful of seasons. Along with his “hitting coach” Joey Votto, hopefully Pham provides another guy to go with the younger duo of Tyler Stephenson and Jonathan India to really make pitchers work.
“I’m still expecting big things from myself within this game. This is a year for me to prove it to myself as well.”
While Tommy Pham did draw plenty of walks in each of the last two seasons he’s struggled to hit for much average. In his two seasons with the Padres he hit just .226/.335/.370. The hits just didn’t find the grass often while playing out west. A lot of the decline in his average has been from a massive drop off in his BABIP. From his debut through the end of 2019 his BABIP was .339 (and never dipping below .316 in one of those five seasons), but over the last two seasons it’s dropped down to .275. His contact rate has largely remained the same, and his walk rate has too. The power dipped a bit in San Diego, though. Great American Ball Park tends to cure small power dips, so if his BABIP can return to where it’s normally been rather than where it’s been over the last 700 plate appearances in the last two seasons it could lead to a very nice bounceback for the outfielder.